First world countries have it easier than ever, especially America. We have more freedoms than ever and don’t typically face much persecution, not like the church does overseas or has in the past. The closer we get to the beginning of the church the more agonizing persecution shows its face.
Torture, pain and death permeate the history of Christianity. After all, Christ Jesus himself was hung on a crucifix. His ministry started with 12 disciples which quickly became 72 and then 3000+ were added shortly after that. (Matt 10:2, Luke 10:1, Acts 2:41)
“From the time of Nero (64 A.D.) until the conversion of Emperor Constantine and the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.), whereby Christianity was made legal, the Christian faith was officially regarded as a religio prava, an evil or depraved religion.” (source: christianity.com)
Christianity is Rooted in Judaism
A lot of Christian influence began in the Jewish synagogues. Christians did not join forces with the Jews in the rebellion against Rome in 66 A.D. and near 100 A.D. the Christian Church had largely separated from the Synagogue.
A “Church” Wasn’t Always a Building
The Church, much like most gigantic movements, had small beginnings. Early believers typically met in their homes. Our modern day “Church” buildings weren’t really around until the early 200’s. (source: christianity.com)
There Was Disagreement but No Denominations
There wasn’t this mass division of different viewpoints as seen today throughout the world but there were minor disagreements. Much like now, these matters were taken very seriously and were dealt with great passion.
Many of the earliest believers faced unspeakable opposition. The Emperor Nero blamed Christians for the great fire in Rome in 64 A.D even though he allegedly ordered the fire himself. A historian named Tacitus recorded Christians being “torn by dogs, nailed to crosses and used as human torches to illumine his gardens at night.” (source: christianity.com) Excuse me while I throw up.
A man named Hippolytus wrote about baptism in Rome in 200 A.D. Aspiring Christians took off their clothes, were baptized three times after renouncing Satan and affirming the foundations of the faith, they then put on new clothes. After this they joined the rest of the church for the Lord’s Supper.
Can you imagine people getting naked at their church to be baptized? What a different world we live in today.
Baptism was not commenced easily at the time either. Believers going through the initial process were first called ‘catechumen’ and this process sometimes took three years! The person was watched closely and examined thoroughly regarding their behavior. The church wouldn’t admit anybody who they deemed disingenuous in their love for God. (source: christianity.com)
The Prosperity Preacher
Turns out using the gospel for financial gain has been around for just as long as the church has. A document nearly as old as the first New Testament writing references the dangers of traveling preachers looking for money. (source: christianity.com)
Hope you enjoyed a small glimpse to the past.